CCS, Parr find ways to help others

CCS founder helps young people advance

When Ian Parr founded Oakbrook Terrace-based CCS International in 1979, he didn't realize that he was creating a company that would eventually do more than estimates for projects in the construction industry.

The company started a program designed to help individuals, who may need a boost to step up and gain a career, education and confidence.

CCS started what it calls the Step Up program after helping one young man gain a job and an education paid by the company.

It is a way to help someone get a solid foundation, a steady job and a future in a growing industry.

"It's not a giveaway, or being charitable. It's an opportunity to do good work, help other estimators and eventually get a step up on the ladder," said Parr, 69.

While Parr enjoys working as an estimator on major commercial projects, he also enjoys helping others trying to find their way, just as he once did.

Parr was born and raised in southeast London, England. It was a tough neighborhood, a world away from his adopted DuPage County home.

He was born to an unwed English woman and an Asian father in 1948. Society then wasn't always kind to a biracial boy growing up in England. It wasn't any better when his mother later married and the youngster took his stepfather's last name.

Parr eventually left England, hitchhiked around Europe and then traveled through New Zealand. He later landed in Boston and got a job, which eventually led him to the Chicago area.

He has worked in the estimating industry since 1965. So it was natural to start his firm in 1979.

CCS now has 35 employees and offices in Oakbrook Terrace; Houston, Texas; Durham, North Carolina; Bethesda, Maryland and Ashford, England.

About three years ago, the company was looking for ways to work more efficiently. They considered hiring someone to take on a few extra duties that many of the top executives didn't have time for. That's when they learned about a man through one of their employees. He was a high school graduate, but he didn't attend college. He was working for a bathroom-and-kitchen company and wanted a better future with more stability.

"We brought him in and said, 'This is what we have,'" Parr said. "'If you think you could do this for about 18 months, you could learn more about the construction industry and construction materials.'"

Jeff Klima agreed. CCS sent Klima to College of Dupage while he worked side-by-side with others in the firm.

About two years later, Klima, 36, learned about the commercial construction industry and estimating. He was involved in the management and estimation side of new buildings erected at Northwestern University, University of Notre Dame and some Veteran Administration hospitals nationwide. He has since been promoted to cost manager.

"I like it a lot," said Klima of Elmhurst. "I've learned a lot about some cool projects."

Since Klima's promotion, the firm has hired his replacement in what is now formally known as the Step Up program. They selected a man from Chicago's South Side who starts this week.

"This is a win-win situation," Parr said. "It makes business sense to do a program like this and help someone so they can have an opportunity."


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  CCS International Founder Ian Parr started a successful estimating company in Oakbrook Terrace for construction firms. He is now helping young people, like cost manager Jeff Klima, left, to advance within the company. Daniel White/
  Ian Parr, founder of CCS International in Oakbrook Terrace, said his company has started the Step Up program, which helps someone get training and an education on the profession of estimators. Daniel White/
Kerry Lavelle
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